Best alcohol-free drinks for adults
Spirit-free spirits and wine-like cordials - the top non-alcoholic substitutes for a proper drink
With most office workers housebound for the foreseeable future, many of us have been reaching for a gin and tonic or glass of wine to mark the end of the working day.
There may be no harm in that, in moderation at least, but nor does it hurt to have a non-alcoholic alternative on standby - especially now that soft drinks can be as sophisticated and satisfying as hard liquor.
Here we pick out some of the best alcohol-free drinks for adults...
Award-winning bartender Carl Anthony Brown has recently launched Crossip - a new range of non-alcoholic spirits made from botanical ingredients. Three unique, zero-ABV varieties are available: Dandy Smoke, reminiscent of mezcal or a peaty whisky; Fresh Citrus, a novel take on a fruit punch; and Pure Hibiscus, the non-alcoholic alternative to the classic Italian bitter. £22 for a 500ml bottle, £60 for the collection; crossipdrinks.com
Another new non-alcoholic spirit to come onto the market is ZEO. There are two ZEO expressions: Botanical Dry and Spiced Oak, each available in 70cl, 50cl and 5cl bottles. ZEO Botanical Dry, a clear spirit made from nine botanicals, mixes well with tonic and a lemon slice as well as in cocktails such as a Collins or Classic Martini. ZEO Spiced Oak, an amber-coloured spirit made from eight botanicals, can be enjoyed on the rocks, in cocktails such as an Old Fashioned, or simply served with a splash of cola. feelzeo.com
FLUÈRE is made with the same distilling techniques used to produce alcoholic spirits such as gin, mezcal and rum. A perfect base for non-alcoholic long drinks, the FLUÈRE range includes four varieties: FLUÈRE Original; FLUÈRE Raspberry; FLUÈRE Spiced Cane; and FLUÈRE Smoked Agave. £20 for 700ml (ABV 0%); amazon.co.uk
Cotswolds Dry Gin Essence
While not totally alcohol-free, Cotswolds Dry Gin Essence is so rich in botanical character that just 5ml is needed for a full flavour G&T, which has one-tenth of the alcohol of the usual signature serve. The Cotswolds Distillery’s new addition comes in a 100ml bottle with a pipette and provides 20 serves. Five full pipette drops of gin amount to 5ml (a teaspoon) which is the recommended amount for one Gin Essence serve. Cotswolds Dry Gin Essence contains 14 calories per 5ml serve and just 0.23 units of alcohol. £14.95 for a 100ml bottle; cotswoldsdistillery.com
True to its name, meaning “Wild Earth” in Latin and Greek, Feragaia is a small batch alcohol-free spirit that is distilled using age-old techniques in the far reaches of the Scottish Lowlands. Amber in colour with a winey, vermouth-type quality, Feragaia is inspired by windswept coastlines and brings together 14 land and sea botanicals. £24.95 for a 500ml bottle; feragaia.com
Perhaps the best known of the new non-alcoholic brands, Seedlip made its debut in Selfridges four years ago - although it was inspired by a recipe dating from 1651. Distilled from seeds and herbs, it has a flavour profile similar to that of gin, and therefore mixes well with tonic. It is now available in three varieties, the herby Garden 108, zesty Grove 42 and citrusy Spice 94, which stars alongside Æcorn bitter and aromatics in the “nogroni” - a zero-alcohol version of the classic Italian cocktail. Or try it with the Martini Vibrante, below. £18.99 for 700ml; amazon.co.uk
Æcorn non-alcoholic aperitifs
Æcorn Drinks, Seedlip’s sister brand, has a range of non-alcoholic aperitifs, including: Æcorn Dry (floral and herbaceous with notes of clary sage and chamomile); Æcorn Bitter (complex and citrusy with refreshing notes of grapefruit, bay leaf and orange); and Æcorn Aromatic (complex with notes of smoked cherrywood, vanilla, kola nut and chinotto). £19.99; aecorndrinks.com
Though not entirely alcohol free, CleanGin’s 1.2% ABV is almost homeopathic if you’re drinking it in a G&T. The new product is, says the Daily Mail, “the brainchild of Pippa Middleton’s brother-in-law, the former Made In Chelsea reality TV star Spencer Matthews”. More importantly, it has a pleasingly fresh flavour - although it lacks the kick that comes with strong alcohol. It also lacks a strong hit of juniper, opting instead for a subtly herbal flavour profile that mixes well with a Mediterranean tonic water. Its maker, CleanCo., is hard at work producing similarly low-alcohol rums and whiskies. £25 for 700ml; clean.co
Unlike many of the drink-makers on this list, Martini starts with the intoxicating original, taking the same wines used in its classic vermouths and gently removing the alcohol. Then it’s infused with a collection of all-natural botanicals, including Italian bergamot. The bright pink result makes an excellent aperitif drunk neat over ice, or mixed with ginger ale or tonic water in a long glass. If your goal is to moderate rather than eliminate your alcohol intake, you can mix equal parts Martini Vibrante, CleanGin and original Campari for a drink that delivers the punch of a negroni without the post-revelry pain. £10.95 for 750ml; The Whisky Exchange
Matthew Jukes, wine writer for our sister publication MoneyWeek, is so sure there’s a gap in the market for a “sophisticated, delicious and intellectually stimulating” non-alcoholic drink that he has created his own. Two of them, in fact. With friend and co-founder Jack Hollihan, he is responsible for a pair of what they call Cordialities - grown-up cordials made from fruits, vegetables and other organic flavourings. They have very little in common with their syrupy childhood namesakes. Jukes 6, a dark berry red, is rich and slightly spiced, while Jukes 1 is brighter, fresher and full of citrus spark. Both mix well with tonic water, or even pure mineral water for the cleanest finish. £35 for nine 30ml bottles; jukescordialities.com
Also inspired by the complex flavour profile of fine wine, Nine Elms combines 20 flowers and herbs and spices to produce a ruby-red liquid intended to be drunk from the bottle, with food. While no-one will confuse it for a hearty claret, it’s a lot more sophisticated than Shloer - all those botanicals give it more than a hint of tannin to balance out the bright fruitiness. £16.95 for 750ml; Master of Malt
It may look a lot like limoncello, but Everleaf is a richer, more complex tipple than the Italian liqueur. Bittersweet and herbaceous, it derives its flavour from a range of botanicals: vanilla, saffron, gentian and iris provide a balance of sharp and earthy notes. It manages to “capture the mouthfeel and nuance of an alcoholic aperitif”, says Imbibe. It works well either sweetened with lemonade in a spritz or sharpened with tonic water. It’s also very good with a splash of vodka or prosecco, although that slightly defeats the object. £18 for 500ml; amazon.co.uk
The boldest claim among our contenders comes from “social elixir” Three Spirit, which says its blend of botanical ingredients can lift your mood and cultivate a “natural, blissful feeling”. It will certainly please non-drinkers more then a token fruit juice: the dark cordial looks the part in a cocktail glass, and its herbal notes blend alluringly with ginger ale. Or try the “social spritz” - a two parts Three Spirit to one-part blackcurrant cordial, topped up with soda water. £24.95 for 500ml; Master of Malt